25th July 2020
'First things first'
22 'Jesus said, 'First things first.
Follow me, Pursue life.' Matthew 8:22 (The Message)
22 But Jesus told him, Follow me,
and let the dead bury their own dead. (NIV)
Can you think back to a time when all shops were closed on Sundays?
How did we ever mange? It was a quieter time.
It was the summer of 1994 that legislation was introduced in England and Wales,
allowing shops to open,
but restricting opening times of larger stores,
generally from 10-4pm. How this has escalated.
Today we have become a twenty-four hour,
seven days a week society dedicated to work and play,
although the effect of the Corona virus epidemic
has slowed the pace somewhat for many.
There are many who cannot wait to get back to 'normal',
whatever that is,
but there are others who have found a slower,
quieter pace of life to their liking.
If you long for that 'back in time' experience,
where Sundays are special rather than being just another day of the week,
you would need to go to America; Ohio, Pennsylvania
and Indiana or Ontario, Canada
where there are the Amish communities.
You will not be able to shop at an Amish business
or dine at an Amish restaurant
because you will find 'Closed' signs on their doors.
It is quiet and there is a sense of peace
in the air around the villages on a Sunday.
You will hear the sound of horse's hooves on the road
as they pull the buggies that are filled with families
as they go to worship in each other's homes.
After the service they share a meal together.
It is church followed by a social family affair and lasts most of the day.
The Amish believe that the Bible literally
provides the direction for how they should live.
For example. Exodus 20:8-10a
8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
9 Six days you shall labour and do all your work,
10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.
On it you shall not do any work.
Many people say they work too hard and too long each week
so they need Sunday to do their shopping and conduct other business.
For six days a week no-one works harder than the Amish,
yet they find time to worship and rest on the Sabbath Day.
Like them, we need to set aside a time to worship,
meditate, rest and read the Bible.
In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says,
28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
He is saying; are you tired? Worn out?
Burned out on religion?
Come to me, get away with me and you will recover your life.
I'll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it.
Learn the unforce rhythm of grace...
keep company with me and you will learn to live freely and lightly.
While we may not be Amish and it would not be practical
to close all the retail businesses on a Sunday,
they do provide an example of dedication to observing an extended time each week
to meditate and worship.
We can learn much from them in pursuit of a peaceful,
restful and quieter lifestyle to prepare ourselves for the week ahead.